Political Commentary

Conservatives build things

Liberals make rules

by T. Nelson

Political Commentary

Conservatives build things

I f you turned on the TV one day and discovered that your next-door neighbor had built an H-bomb in his basement, you know what the talking heads would all be saying: he's a conservative, a right-winger. And they'd probably be right.

Has any liberal who ever lived known how to screw in a light bulb, let alone build anything? Perhaps in the past, but no longer. (Granted, those new CF bulbs can be a challenge. But that's the libs' own fault.) Today, their aspiration is to become a member of the manager class. Let a liberal get a fingernail's grip on power, and they'll claw and scrape for more until they're making up new rules and regulations as if they owned the world.

Antikythera image from Wikipedia The Antikythera: Proof of the existence of ancient conservatives We had somebody like that where I worked. She snagged a job as a secretary by being related to somebody else. A few years later she was making up new rules for us. Rules about abusing the copy machine. Safety regulations about the paper cutter. Documentation on all the laboratory freezers. Purchase records for everything.

To the bureaucratic mind, if it's not written down, it didn't happen. So everything must be documented, to make sure it continues to exist. It is the accountants' version of Schrodinger's cat.

A conservative is just happy to tune the fuel injectors on their car. Conservatives are the ones who have great ideas, build things, fix the plumbing, and make things happen. Liberals write reports, live with their parents, collect government payouts, and try to stop conservatives from building nuclear power plants and windmills and putting methanol-powered fuel cells in our cars ... and most of all, make up rules. Liberals and conservatives have different survival strategies and different ways of seeing the world, and they live in different worlds.

Bottom line: conservatives believe in the real world, and liberals want to construct their own alternative world to live in. Nature rebels against this; the only way to do that is by force.

Anything artistic, or anything involving lots of talking—that is, anything with emotional appeal—liberals are great at. Anything physical or logical, ask a conservative. The people who created Facebook are liberals. The ones who designed the routers and fiber optic cables that made it possible were, for the most part, conservatives.

And we should be happy about that. The only liberal who ever knew how to build things was that guy who lived in a cabin in the mountains and mailed bombs to airline executives. Luckily, because he was a liberal, most of them didn't work. Imagine what would happen if a liberal tried to build a nuclear power plant. Or if one of them got elected to run the most powerful country on Earth. The planet would be in flames within six y---oh, wait, that happened.

It happened not just because government has taken over, but because just like the Qing dynasty Chinese we've somehow elevated the managerial class over the productive class. It pays more to tell someone else to do something than to do it yourself. Usually those who give the orders have no idea how to do it themselves, and often have a weak grasp of what “it” means. The ones at the top sincerely believe they don't have to know. It's true that the idea of division of labor encourages this, but there's more to it than that.

Knowing how to do stuff makes you a conservative, or a libertarian, and vice-versa. If you know how to invent, you value the freedom that's necessary to be able to invent. If you're a conservative, you value the hard work in learning how to make things, do calculations accurately, and build theories that work. These days, that's harder: designing analog electronic circuits is a dying art. It's cheaper to buy something new than to repair it, let alone to make it from scratch. Getting chemicals is virtually impossible. Disposing of them is even harder. And nobody wants to pay for a powerful new theory but the government.

But what is a rule? Rules are how we avoid having to figure things out. In physics, contrary to what we're taught, the laws of nature were invented, not discovered. Nature does what it wants. The rules are for us. Their purpose is to collect and classify what happens in the world so we can simplify and understand it. To a physicist, “doing botany” is a disparaging term for someone whose idea of doing science is to collect things and sort them into different piles. But physicists don't say that anymore. There are nearly 50 different subatomic particles if you include composite ones like mesons. There's scant difference between classifying leaves and classifying radioactive particles. The particles are just a lot harder to press into a scrapbook.

Those kinds of rules help us build things and understand the world. The rules we use to avoid thinking and making judgments are normative and they turn us into robots. Maybe we invent so many rules because we like to have power over each other, because we're so afraid of each other. Maybe we've gotten too lazy to think. Or maybe we're just afraid if we don't make rules, we'll cease to exist. I legislate, therefore I am. Lego ergo sum.

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